As fewer customers flock to meat shops, there is not enough meat waste generated to feed the stray animals
Last year, during the lockdown when roads became deserted and markets and hotels closed, a few people were concerned that stray animals and birds, who depended on these for scraps, would starve.
Then, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan acknowledged the gravity of the situation and called for the animals to be fed. His statement turned the tide, so to speak, as feeding animals became something that was no longer frowned upon. In fact, it generated quite a buzz.
A year later, animal lovers are again hoping that the Chief Minister will speak up for the animals and their plight, for the situation seems to be much grimmer this time.
People for Animals (PFA) secretary Latha Indira says they are not getting enough food this time around. “Yesterday, I got fish waste, sorted it, and gave it to the stray dogs. But I don’t know what I will do today.”
It was not easy finding slaughter or chicken waste last year, but the PFA animal feeders managed somehow. The waste was then cooked along with rice in a kitchen set up in Sasthamangalam, and delivered in the city and even places as far away as Kachani and Aruvikkara. On a day, the PFA and its feeders were dropping off food for 750 to 1,000 dogs.
Now, as fewer customers flock to slaughterhouses, they have scaled down operations, even putting up the shutters for a day or two in a week. This has affected the PFA supplies.
A bigger worry though is finances. The feeders pay out of pocket for the meat waste and the rice fed to the dogs. And the PFA has been feeding dogs continuously for the past one year, says Ms. Latha. “We have not stopped since the first lockdown began, though it has been scaled down to 250-odd dogs. But we do not have the funds to buy meat waste and rice, employ a cook to prepare it, pay for fuel for the deliveries, and the driver. Neither do we get grants or many donations.”
Much as they want, it is difficult to feed the dogs on the scale PFA desires. Unlike the city, there are many places such as Vizhinjam and Poovar where they do not have feeders and nor are they able to reach there. Yet, they have not given up. They are still delivering food to a handful of feeders so that the animals can be provided food.
A simple solution to the problem is for people in a locality to feed hungry dogs like they would people, says Ms. Latha. Residents’ associations can do a lot in this regard. All it requires is kindness. It is also good from the public health viewpoint as once the dogs are fed and become friendly, they can be vaccinated and sterilised. Friendly dogs are not aggressive either, and help keep strangers away at night, she points out.
She welcomes the State Police Chief’s orders to police personnel not to block people feeding dogs. A word from the Chief Minister, she says, will be a shot in the arm for animal lovers as it will further increase acceptance of feeding stray animals. For now, it is a day-to-day struggle to fill their bellies.
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